Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE OLD SETTLER ...in Los Angeles










An old settler is a coarse name for an old maid, but, in this case, it also suggests one who settles. This poignant play by John Henry Redwood is about a 50 year-old woman, in 1943, who is given the choice to embrace life, take a risk and find joy. A man twenty years younger offers her love and passion, but the society she lives in, personified by her sister and a young party girl, challenge and intimidate her.

Ruby Hinds & Jolie Oliver
Elizabeth is not a fighter, she’s a nurturer. Although a strong woman, she is dominated by those who mock and degrade her, whose actions are self-serving, and who can only love her when she is in defeat. The play often seemed to suggest the song lyric - some people get their kicks stomping on a dream - from “That’s Life.” However, Redwood understood the mores of the 1940’s and does not let us judge Elizabeth’s choice, or her sister's criticisms, from our modern viewpoint.

Elizabeth & sister Jolie

Ruby Hinds’ Elizabeth is dignified and deeply loving; Jolie Oliver, is delightfully funny as her unintentionally cruel sister; John R. Davidson, as the young suitor, shows a gentle man na├»vely trapped by split loyalties, and Crystal Garrett is sassy as Bessie May, a young gal who knows how to control men through sex.
Bessie May & Jolie

William Stanford Davis directs with sensitivity. Set design by Thomas Brown, lighting by Carol Doehring, costumes by Grace Goodson and props by Chuck Loring are all redolent of a bygone era.

A  JVO Productions in association with InterACT Theatre Company. At The Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, through Oct. 27. For reservations (323) 960-7712 or www.plays411.com/oldsettler.

The Old Settler premiered in 1995 at the O'Neill Theatre Conference and in 2001 was on PBS-TV starring real-life sisters Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad.

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